How Does Link Exchange Work – Are They Still Relevant in 2022?

how link exchange works

Why link exchanges are the way to go for your SEO strategy.

What is a link exchange?

Link exchange is an agreement between two websites to help increase each other's rankings by linking to each other. 

For example, website A and website B would both add a link on their respective sites that point to the other site. This creates more direct traffic for both sites but also helps increase the rankings for both sites in search engines like Google.

When to consider a link exchange 

Consider a link exchange if you want to educate your users and if it offers referral traffic. You must also share an audience with the partner you’re exchanging links with. 

There are also ethical considerations when you are organizing a link exchange. You should always trade links for mutual benefit, not simply because you think it will boost your site’s rankings. It’s important to keep customer success marketing in mind and ensure that the link adds value to your content. 

Buying links is a practice to be avoided for this reason but more on that later. 

Types of links in a link exchange

1. One-way links

It is a type of link building in which your site receives inbound links without you having to link back to their site. These types of links are the best kind of links you can get, but they can be hard to find.

The main benefit is that search engines love them, especially if they are from high PageRank sites. Search engines rank you higher when they see a lot of one-way links to your site. This is because it shows that the website is considered valuable by others.

2. Reciprocal links

Two-way links or reciprocal link exchange occurs when both sites agree to put a link on their site for the other site. This type of link exchange is the most commonly used type of link exchange for the purpose of SEO and site authority.

3. Triangular links

Three-way links or triangular links are where three sites all link to each other. It's like a triangle, with one site in each corner. Many webmasters use this type of link exchange because it allows them to create more one-way links than two-way links would allow.

For instance, site A links to site B, site B links to site C, and site C links to site A.

triangular links

Top link exchange strategies

1. Guest blogging 

Guest blogging is a link-building strategy that involves writing a blog post that you publish on another website, usually one in your industry.

It's a great way to bolster your inbound links and get more exposure for your website. By publishing articles on other people's blogs, you can increase the number of qualified visitors to your site, as well as improve your search engine rankings.

No wonder as many as 60% of bloggers write one to five guest posts each month. 

"guest post actually written per month" donut chart

The primary benefit of guest blogging is that it gives you access to a new audience. If someone reads and likes your article, then they're more likely to visit your website and perhaps even share your article with their friends. So you need to make sure that you write interesting, informative, and well-written articles.

2. Building local links

It involves the process of getting links, references, and brand mentions from local businesses. 

A backlink from a local site shows Google and other search engines that you have a local connection. This helps them determine if you are relevant for local searches, and it helps them trust your content more than if it came from someone with less of a connection to the niche.

3. Link exchange partnerships

In link exchange partnerships, webmasters make arrangements between themselves to cross-link to each others' content to increase search engine rankings. 

A private influencer network is a good example.

Have a look at this article:


In the article above, you will see Weekdone mentioned four times. These mentions are links to the company that the author is working for. 

When a guest article is used for a private influencer network, it can be linked to other recommended resources that the author has connections with. Just make sure that the links are relevant even to other people in your network to get a backlink yourself.

Link exchange practices to avoid

1. Purchased links

Google considers purchased links a part of the “link scheme.” A link scheme is any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. This includes buying or selling links, exchanging goods or services for links, and the use of automated programs or services to create links to your site. 

If Google notices that you are purchasing links, you will be issued a ‘Manual Action.’ Once you get slapped with this punishment, the only thing you can do is disavow all the purchased links. However, it does not guarantee that your site will recover.

2. Link baits

When link baiting, you aim to make your page so useful or entertaining that people will want to link to it. If you can get enough links this way, you'll raise your ranking in search engines.

But there's a fine line between creating something interesting and valuable and creating something that's merely intended to bait links. If you create pages just for this purpose, you risk losing credibility as well as traffic. In extreme cases, poorly executed linkbait can even result in Penguin-style Google penalties.

3. Bad web directories 

95% of all Google penalties can be credited to your site’s backlink profile. Thus, steering clear of scam links is essential. Watch out for directories accepting all links, sites allowing keyword-anchored links, and directories that boast high PageRank.

Strategies for your link-building outreach campaigns

1. Pick strategic recipients and decision-makers

Since a link-building outreach campaign is so time-consuming, you'll want to make the most of it by focusing on individuals who are more likely to respond. To do that, you must be strategic in your outreach and choose the right person for each piece of content you're promoting.

A good first step is to identify the decision-makers for each website. The company's website should list this information, but if not, then try contacting them directly through their website or on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Once the decision-makers are identified, you'll need to figure out which one will get the most value from linking to your content. For example, if you have an article about paid search targeting tactics and your target site is a marketing agency, then you'll want to pick an individual from the paid search team instead of someone from the social media team.

2. Network and build your partner email list

Build and maintain a list of all your partners, contacts, and friends that work in marketing, PR, or SEO. You can achieve this by connecting with them on social media.

A great way of doing this is by adding these contacts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook and then reaching out via email to confirm that you follow each other on social media.

However, if you're going to do it this way, make sure you send personalized messages. These messages should mention anything related to the person themselves (e.g., a book they've written or something they said online) or something related to their company (a recent blog post, for example).

Link-building outreach tools and lead generation tools can also help you find email addresses. 

3. Use guest post and outreach email templates

After analyzing 12 million outreach emails, Backlinko found that only 8.5% of outreach emails get a response. This study hints at the importance of outreach email templates.

​​When you’re trying to build your business’s backlink profile, don’t start from scratch every time. Instead, use existing templates as the basis for your outreach emails and guest posts.

Create a variety of different templates that you can use in different situations. That way, when you do get a response to your email, you can use the appropriate template to reply.

4. Make the benefits and value clear

People often focus on the technical aspects of getting a link, such as how to get the code for a site or which page would be best to place a link on. This is important, but it's also vital that you make the benefits and value clear immediately in your email outreach campaigns.

Find out your site’s assets that a webmaster will find valuable and pitch them in your outreach email. Highlight how their audience will find your article helpful. For instance, if you are pitching for ToFu (top-of-funnel) content, point out what makes it helpful and evergreen. 

5. Leverage the broken link building strategy

This includes reaching out to webmasters who are linking to dead resources. Point out that they're linking to a broken page, and kindly suggest your own page as an alternative (and better) source of information. 

Try to find broken links in your niche, recreate a version of the content, and then reach out to webmasters asking them to replace the broken link with your resource. Be ethical while recreating the content. 

6. Focus on personalization

Personalization is a crucial digital marketing trend, and it applies to link building as well. It is not only about addressing your email to the right name. Your outreach email should reveal that you know about the webmaster and what they cover daily.

7. Nail your subject line

Keep your subject lines short and informative. It should convey your email’s purpose immediately. For instance, if you are looking for a link exchange, state it in the subject line. 

Or, if you want a site owner to address a dead link issue, mention it in the subject line itself.

Here’s an example of an outreach email with an apt subject line:  


8. Never forget to follow up

Follow-up is a fundamental part of any outreach campaign. It shows that you care about your target and that you are not just sending out emails to get as many links as possible. 

Most people are busy and have lots of emails in their inbox, so it's easy for them to miss one. And if you have done your research, you know that your prospect is interested in what you offer. So, don’t hesitate to follow up if you fail to get a reply the first time. 

Your turn to kickstart link exchange and get some SEO juice!

You want those high-quality links because getting your website some attention via link building or content creation is how you improve its SERP ranking. Not to mention the fact that you do get some traffic from these sites, even if it's minimal. 

Google has made loads of information available for you to make an informed decision. It's at least worth digging around a little bit into this well-trodden subject. We sincerely hope we've shed some light on this topic for you.

On the other hand, if you need help with getting more authority and rankings in search engines like Google and Yahoo, you can always hire link-building professionals and SEO experts at Mediaberry. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Beatrice is the Head of Content and Operations at MediaBerry. She helps brands fulfill their vision through words by helping produce sparkling content pieces that convert. When she isn’t busy strategizing, you’ll find her working on her next novel.

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